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1. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
Philipp W. Rosemann By Way of Introduction: A Note on Our Cover
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augustine, confessions, book xi: papers from a seminar
2. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
John Milbank The Confession of Time in Augustine
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The apparent contradiction between subjective and objective approaches to time in Augustine can be resolved if it is understood that he regarded cosmic time and the finite things it engenders as being of itself, in some sense, both psychic and self-recording. This interpretation holds whether or not Augustine affirms a world soul. It is justifiable in terms of the continued applicability of his earlier liberal-arts writings to his later texts and his blending of Plotinian vitalism, Porphyrian spiritualism, and his own ‘theurgism’ (especially in his commentary on the Psalms), which is parallel to that of Iamblichus. Augustine’s ‘musical ontology’, which is also a metaphysics of number, word, and seminal reason, leads him to develop a theory of time and memory that anticipates more the spiritual realism of Bergson than it does idealist and phenomenological philosophies. However, for Augustine, time as an image of eternity remains aporetic, and its aporia is ‘resolved’ only by the Incarnation and its sustaining as the liturgical and political community of the Church. Through Christological, and not just angelic, mediation, our memories and expectations truly reach to past and future realities, just as our intentions reach to really located things, but only because all of these are both inherently psychic/intellectual and sustained by the divine eternity.
3. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
William Desmond Wording Time. On Augustine’s Confessions XI: Transcriptions, Variations, Improvisations
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Rather than abstracting Augustine’s exploration of time from the whole of the Confessions, as philosophers have been tempted to do, I take up his exploration in terms of what I call a ‘companioning relation’ between philosophy and theology. There is a porosity between religion/theology and philosophy in Augustine that need not be taken as a philosophical or theological deficiency. This reflection speaks of Augustine’s intentions and intuitions in terms of the theme: Wording Time. How might one word this wording, and how might Augustine’s approach to time be thus illuminated? I approach the question in different stages, dealing first with theological, ontological, and psychological considerations. Then I follow the breadth of Augustine’s concerns to a sense of sacred heterogeneities that yet are deeply intimate, and to a sense of time that is in communication with what is above time. In keeping with the musical motif that runs through this reflection, I offer some thoughts on agapē as not only an agapē sonans but an agapē personans. I will sometimes be transcribing Augustine’s themes, sometimes offering variations on them, and sometimes composing improvisations in tune with Augustinian themes.
4. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
Philipp W. Rosemann The Creative Word: Reflections on the Augustinian Episteme
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Book XI of his Confessions contains Augustine’s celebrated ‘treatise’ on time. In reality, however, the ‘treatise’ is no such thing, but rather an integral part of a discussion of God’s creation through the Word: if God creates by speaking, as Scripture affirms, then how can God speak, given the fact that he must be thought not to be subject to time? What is a timeless word? While these are the questions that Augustine explicitly addresses in Book XI, there is something very important that he does not justify at all: namely, the possibility of speaking the world into existence. My paper investigates the episteme within which such a claim can make sense. How must one conceive of the relationship between the world and words to be able to assume that the latter can ‘make’ the former?
5. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
James McEvoy, Mette Lebech Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem: A Latin Liturgical Source Contributing to the Conceptualization History of Human Dignity
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This article explores the history of the prayer Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem as a contribution to the conceptualization history of human dignity. It is argued that the prayer can be traced back to pre-Carolingian times, that it forms part of an early tradition of reflection on human dignity, and that it was adapted to use at the offertory, such that an association was made between human dignity and the holy exchange of gifts. In this way, the prayer significantly shaped the Christian concept of human dignity as the holy ‘place’ of commerce with God.
6. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
Jeffrey P. Bishop Building Moral Brains: Moral Bioenhancement and the Being of Technology
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Technology is evolving at a rate faster than human evolution, especially human moral evolution. There are those who claim that we must morally bioenhance the human due to existential threats (such as climate change and the looming possibility of cognitive enhancement) and due to the fact that the human animal has a weak moral will. To address these existential threats, we must design human morality into human beings technologically. By moral bioenhancement, these authors mean that we must intervene technologically in the biology of the human animal in order to get it to behave morally to address these existential threats. I will bring the idea of moral bioenhancement into conversation with two philosophers of technology. Bernard Stiegler has argued that technology and culture, and thus technology and human beings, have always evolved hand in hand. Peter-Paul Verbeek notes that we have always designed morality into technology, and thus he sees technology as mediating human morality. When we offload human intentionality onto technology, Verbeek argues, technological objects and systems participate in shaping the moral subjectivity of the human actor. I will show that modern technological bioenhancement obliterates human being. Whereas in the past, human culture was handed from generation to generation through the mediation of technology, in the modern era, the human becomes the raw material upon which a technological will (imperative) rides.
7. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 10
Philip J. P. Gonzales Violence and the Exception of Christian Revelation: René Girard and Giorgio Agamben in Conversation with Benedict XVI
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If violence is not the exception but the nomos under which we live, how can one gain a view of violence from outside the regime of violence and the history of its effects? This essay argues that the only way to confront the regime of violence’s history is to have recourse to a Judeo-Christian understanding of revelation and its exceptional non-violent message. A Christocentric philosophy of history, of broadly Augustinian contours, is presented which seeks to confront the nomos of violence with the Logos of peace. The enactment of this Christocentric perspective will be accomplished via a confrontation between René Girard and Giorgio Agamben read in view of their respective engagements with the thought of Benedict XVI.
three inaugural lectures
8. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Philipp W. Rosemann Leonard Cohen, Philosopher
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This paper, which the author delivered as his inaugural lecture as the Chair of Philosophy at Maynooth University, explores the relationship between philosophy, poetry, and religion. Through a line-by-line interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Steer Your Way’, it discovers the poet in a space between postmodern disillusionment and a desire for faith. What opens Cohen to the latter is specifically the experience of pain and brokenness, which lead him to the figure of Jesus. The paper concludes with a reflection on Richard Kearney’s notion of ‘anatheism’, the return to a ‘God after God’.
9. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
William Desmond The Gift of Beauty and the Passion of Being
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This is a reflection on the gift of beauty and the passion of being in light of the fact that today we often meet an ambiguous attitude to beauty. Beauty seems bland and lacks the more visceral thrill of the ugly, indeed the excremental. We crave what disrupts and provokes us. Bland beauty seems to be the death of originality. How then be open at all to beauty as gift? In fact, we often are disturbed paradoxically by beauty: both taken out of ourselves, hence disquieted, yet awakened to our being at home with beauty. Beauty arouses enigmatic joy in us, and we enjoy an elemental rapport with it as other. Surprised by beauty, our breath is taken away; we are more truly there with the beautiful yet taken outside of ourselves: both at home with ourselves and not at home, in being beyond ourselves. We are first receivers of the gift of surprise and only then perceivers and conceivers. My attention to the passion of being stresses a patience, a receptivity to what is other. What happens is not first our construction. Our being disarmed by the beautiful I hold to be in tune with our being as marked most deeply by what I call a primal ‘porosity’ to being. Beauty sensuously communicates in and through this awakened porosity. We are a patience of being before we are an endeavour to be. In modern aesthetics and culture, originating receptivity tends to be downplayed as a depreciation of our claims to creative power. The predominant stress often falls on human autonomy, such that we love only what we construct ourselves, not what we receive. By contrast, I argue there is something of the godsend in what is truly beautiful. This might not be a fashionable way of talking but the vocation of the philosopher is not to be fashionable but to be true.
10. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Fionntán de Brún Escaping the ‘Shower of Folly’: The Irish Language, Revivalism, and the History of Ideas
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The Irish language represents a material link ensuring continuity between the past and present of the Irish experience, but as that link has gradually been obscured, the language has become a form of alterity, indicated in the notion of Gaelic Ireland going ‘underground’. The choice between maintaining the continuity of the Irish literary tradition and abandoning it was characterized by Franciscan theologian and philosopher Froinsias Ó Maolmhuaidh (Francis O’Molloy) as the choice between keeping one’s reason and embracing folly. Thus, his envoi to the first printed Irish grammar in 1677 exhorts the people of Ireland to engage in a revival of literacy in the Irish language so as to transform their future by keeping faith with the past. Yet the desire to revive past knowledge or values is problematic. Is it possible, as the Irish revivalist Douglas Hyde desired, to ‘render the present a rational continuation of the past’? Or is it the case that revivals are attempts at a renewal of tradition, involving a dialectical transition similar to Hegel’s notion of Aufhebung? This inaugural lecture considers this question and the wider implications of revival by situating the Irish tradition of Revivalism within the broader history of ideas.
11. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Jonathan Gorman Traditions in Philosophy of History
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I summarize the history of twentieth-century theorizing about history by historians and by philosophers of different traditions. I clarify the nature of ‘analytical’ philosophy, with philosophical arguments imagined to exist in a shared atemporal space. Analytical philosophy of history largely presupposed David Hume’s empiricism, explicit in Carl Hempel’s 1942 analysis of historical explanation as causal. Others argued for reasons instead, but by 1965 analytical philosophers were analysing historical narratives. Many theorists were unclear about the nature of philosophical method, and ‘empathizing’ with them is fruitful. Empathy is here analysed as shared imagination, where the space imagined is not atemporal but time-extended. Making meaningful sense of our shared world requires the denial of Hume’s view that ‘complexes’ are built entirely out of ‘simples’, and we can think of historical narratives as units of time-extended empirical significance. That we can make our world is argued for and illustrated.
12. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Cyril McDonnell The Origins of the Husserl-Heidegger Philosophical Dispute in Twentieth-Century Phenomenology
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This paper investigates the different ‘scientific’ methods of enquiry that were proposed by Brentano, Dilthey, and Husserl in late nineteenth-century philosophy as background to understanding the philosophical dispute that later emerged between Husserl and Heidegger regarding the definition of phenomenology in the twentieth century. It argues that once Heidegger accepts both Dilthey’s approach and hermeneutic method of enquiry into human experiences, he is unable to follow Husserl in his development of Brentano’s idea of a descriptive science of consciousness and its objectivities into an eidetic science of pure intentional consciousness.
13. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 9
Edith Stein, James Smith, Mette Lebech Truth and Clarity in Teaching and Education
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Between 1923 and 1933, Edith Stein worked as a teacher at a Dominican girls’ school in the German town of Speyer. Her experiences, combined with her philosophical background and her religious faith, inspired her writings on the philosophy of education, including her first public lecture: ‘Wahrheit und Klarheit im Unterricht und in der Erziehung’, delivered in 1926. In this text, Stein discusses ideas that had been raised in a set of guidelines and themes given to teachers for their work in the school year. Stein focuses on the concepts of ‘truth’ and ‘clarity’, exploring the epistemological meanings of these terms, their significance in guiding the work of teaching, and their importance for the entire upbringing (Erziehung) of a child, with particular reference to preparing him or her for life as a Christian. Stein’s lecture is here presented in a German-English parallel text translation, along with a short introduction by the translators discussing the text in its historical and philosophical context.
14. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Michael W. Dunne General Editor’s Foreword
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15. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
John Haydn Gurmin Issue Editor’s Introduction
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16. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Notes on Contributors
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17. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Michael Dunne Evil and Indifference
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This article is a personal reflection on the question of the importance of human experience regarding suffering and death. It is also a reflection on the paradoxical indifference that many feel with regard to the suffering of others. It concludes, after an examination of some of the major thinkers on the topic, that we may well be forced to concede that to this question we may possibly be unable to give an answer.
18. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Alan Forde A Response to Yablo’s Ontological Fictionalism
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In a series of recent articles Stephen Yablo argues the case for mathematical fictionalism on the basis that a Quinean approach to ontology is undermined by an indeterminacy about which objects we should be committed to. Yablo has developed a series of semantic models purporting to show that there is no principled way to separate out genuine from apparent ontological commitments. In this paper I focus on his argument that mathematical discourse is metaphorical. I argue that Yablo’s criticism relies on a misunderstanding of the status of Quine’s naturalised ontology. In particular, the indeterminacy Yablo identifies in ontology is common place in all scientific theories, and just as it is not a sufficient reason for abandoning any other scientific theory so is it not sufficient to abandon ontology. I conclude by arguing that Yablo’s presentation of fictionalism as a return to a Carnap style ‘quizzical’ attitude to ontology is equally problematic.
19. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
John Haydn Gurmin Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris: An Analysis of Free Will and Determinism
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The question of free will is a perennial one. With new insights from modern science much reflection is given again to the problem of determinism, and the possibility of human freedom. Richard Dawkins argues that our genes need to be taken into account when considering the question of whether we are free. Daniel Dennett argues for free will from within the context of an evolutionary framework, thereby giving freedom a naturalistic grounding. Both these thinkers operate from within the neo-Darwinian framework, allowing for the possibility of freedom, against the backdrop of determinism/materialism. One other thinker arising out of the neo-Darwinian framework is the neuroscientist Sam Harris. In his publication Free Will, Harris argues that the concept of free will is incoherent, he appeals to arguments from neuroscience to ‘prove’ that we are not free, outlining that the content of experience is not a free choice, the content is produced out of a complex interaction with the individual, and the environment. For a human being to truly have a free choice, Harris argues we would need to be given access to everything that gives rise to the choice. As Harris draws from findings in neuroscience, discussion will be given to the question of Benjamin Libet’s famous neurological experiment, and the wider discussion of consciousness. The paper argues for the possibility of a compatibilist model of free will in line with Dawkins and Dennett’s approach. Concluding that the naturalist model of explanation has a lot of detail to furnish before it could be proven that free will is an illusion.
20. Maynooth Philosophical Papers: Volume > 8
Yinya Liu Discussion of the Ethical Significance of Language in the Philosophy of Heidegger and Levinas
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This article investigates the ethical significance of language in relation to Heidegger and Levinas’s thought. It first examines the prerequisites of the discussion of language based on the concepts of Being (Heidegger) and the Other (Levinas). Then, it deals with the concept of time as an essential element in understanding language. Thirdly, it compares Heidegger’s ontological-language and Levinas’s ethical-language, highlighting Levinas’s critique of Heidegger’s ethical deficiency, especially in Heidegger’s articulation on language. The paper argues that Levinas’s emphasis on the priority and exteriority of the Other in our relation to language both reveals and replaces Heidegger’s mystical significance of language as ‘the House of Being’.